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Sex offender guilty of falsely confessing to more sex crimes

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A convicted sex offender has been found guilty of obstruction of justice after he falsely confessed to the child-sex crimes of another inmate.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/11/2020 (797 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A convicted sex offender has been found guilty of obstruction of justice after he falsely confessed to the child-sex crimes of another inmate.

Michel Bruneau, 29, will be sentenced in the new year once a court-ordered pre-sentence report is completed.

Bruneau and another convicted sex offender, former elementary school teacher Remi Dallaire, were housed in the same unit at Headingley Correctional Centre in 2018. Dallaire allegedly persuaded Bruneau to write a detailed letter confessing to sexually assaulting a young girl.

Michel Bruneau falsely confessed to the child-sex crimes of another inmate when the two were housed in the same unit at Headingley Correctional Centre in 2018. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Dallaire, later convicted of sexually assaulting the girl, tried unsuccessfully to reopen his trial, pointing to the written confession as evidence someone else had committed the crime. A judge rejected the confession, saying it had “no air of reality” and sentenced Dallaire to eight years in prison.

Bruneau recanted several days after providing Dallaire with the eight-page confession, claiming Dallaire had promised to pay him a large sum of money and said he would have him hurt if he did not comply.

The fact Bruneau changed his mind did not affect his guilt because by that time the offence was complete, provincial court Judge Stacy Cawley said in a ruling on Wednesday.

Bruneau’s lawyer argued at trial he only agreed to write the confession to placate Dallaire until he felt it was safe to report him to authorities.

Cawley rejected Bruneau’s claim of duress, saying there was no evidence to suggest Dallaire was violent or posed a genuine threat to him. Had he believed he was in danger, Bruneau could easily have requested a transfer to another unit in the jail, Cawley said.

“A more reasonable inference is that he didn’t request a transfer because he wasn’t concerned about his safety,” she said.

“He knew his false confession would be given to the authorities… Mr. Bruneau was not deprived of his power to choose when he wrote his false confession letters.”

In August 2019, Bruneau was convicted of sexually abusing three children from the same Manitoba Housing complex over three years. He is still awaiting sentencing.

Court heard at trial that Bruneau befriended the victims’ mothers to gain access to the children. At separate times, he moved in with the boys’ mothers and was considered a father figure. Bruneau repeatedly abused the children while showering together or sleeping in the same bed.

All three victims reported the abuse, resulting in Bruneau’s arrest in the fall of 2016. Released on bail, he was ordered to have no contact with the victims and stay away from the housing complex. But within weeks, Bruneau, disguised as a woman, returned to the complex and convinced the boys’ mothers that he had been wrongly accused. The two boys were convinced to recant their police statements at the same time Bruneau continued to abuse them.

Bruneau is set to stand trial in March 2021 for allegedly contacting one of his victims while in custody and convincing the boy and his mother to send him pictures of the boy in the mail.

Dallaire, who was also charged with obstruction of justice related to the false confession, is set to stand trial in July 2021.

dean.pritchard@freepress.mb.ca

 

Dean Pritchard

Dean Pritchard
Courts reporter

Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.

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